Friday, May 24, 2024

How Did GameStop Fall So Hard?

March 27, 2021 by  
Filed under Gaming, News

( So, earlier this month, GameStop saw a massive jump in its stock price. This is after years of just not being a store worth paying attention to and some closing up shop for good.

However, there was a time when GameStop didn’t suck and there was a reason to go there to get games. Mind you, it’s not the best reason as to why it wasn’t so bad but it’s a reason.

The Only Game in Town

Before I found out about GameStop or even Blockbuster, our family would go to a local video store called 3rd Ave Video. This was the 1990s, so it was all SNES and Sega Genesis games along with VHS tapes. At some point it closed down—as did many others across the country.

Then the wave of specialty places and services came along. For movies you had Redbox and a plucky up-and-comer called Netflix. For video games, you had GameStop, EB Games, and GameFly.

In addition to those stores, some local video stores became video game and hobby stores. However, GameStop and EB Games had the presence. Those stores were almost everywhere in every major city.

Hell, you could even find GameStops in smaller cities. If there was a shopping center or strip mall, you’d find a GameStop close to a wing place, pizza place, or a Chinese place. That was just the combination.

The smaller video game stores weren’t going to compete unless they built more stores in better locations with better prices. Since they were small businesses, they built where there was space most of the time.

That’s why GameStop wasn’t so bad. Their stores were accessible regardless of where you stayed. Even though some of them closed down, in my city alone there are five of these stores—two of them are pretty much up the road from each other.

If one store didn’t have something, you could get it held at another reachable location. There were promotions that weren’t bad at the time and going to get a pre-order was an event.

In me and fellow writer Tardell’s case, it was basically our Saturday since we had to ride a bus to another city in the Greater Birmingham Area to get to the store.


GameStop Takes A Spill

So, what rocked GameStop? Where to begin? The biggest culprit would be the availability of the same games for much cheaper on Amazon and eBay. When I finally able to shop online, it was a done deal for the black red store.

This ties into GameStop’s awful trade-in prices. Today, their trade-in prices are a meme that is a mix of buyer nightmares and comedy. While it was just one a thimbleful of bad things about the store, it was the most glaring and the most damaging.

Accessibility to online shopping and their trade-ins were a damaging combination. If you really want to continue dunking on GameStop, then include digital downloads.

Once digital downloads of entire games became a thing on consoles with the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii, there was honestly no reason to drive or ride out to the store.

Of course, this was the issue with many non-gaming stores as well. If you could just shop online and get better deals than in-store, brick and mortar stores are going to need something better.

GS never really found that “better” feature. It offered games to buy online and eventually began selling digital titles but that boat had already sailed. The big three all had their own virtual marketplaces on the console.

Not only that, they all—well Sony and Microsoft—had regular, seasonal deals. Like actual deals. In the same way it was difficult for local stores to deal GameStop and Netflix, GS was fighting one-on-three and losing.

That’s OK for Console Gamers but What About PC Gamers?

It was even worse! Players who gamed on computers—whether Windows or Mac—were on the frontline of online purchases and digital downloads before they became a thing on consoles.

While PC gamers did frequent GS, in the early 2000s, it was possible for them to just download games. This is especially true once multiple CDs became passé. Imagine having to swap CDs to install different parts of one whole game.

Now imagine the entire game being available for download once the game drops. Once this same approach became a thing on consoles, it was like “Who needs GameStop?”

The store still benefits from parents trying to find games for kids but even then, there is a wave of parents that became computer savvy or could shop on their smartphones.

Plus, it’s not like GS adapted to online. It’s just that at the time when gamers were buying their games online and having them delivered, online for a time GS was holding a game at your local franchise.

Who knows, maybe GS will go the route of Blockbuster and become an online-only store. Even then, the main product would be game keys for PC—which are available on Steam, Desura, and Amazon.

Also, there’s no rush for the franchise to change if it can still stay afloat off of customers who don’t like buying online or don’t trust the internet.

If you’ve shopped at GameStop in the past, what are some experiences—good or bad—that you’ve had? Share them with us below!

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This brother enjoys comics, Chinese comics, RPGs, and all things old school and retro. Check out his writing here, on ThyBlackMan, and TheBRHM if you dig rock music! You can also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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